ChildFund India‘s health based programs ensure underserved children, youth and families have access to quality health and adequate nutrition, educate parents and caregivers about their role in preserving maternal and child health, and help youth gain life skills, practice healthy behaviors, form positive relationships, access essential services, and live free from sexual exploitation and abuse.

ChildFund India’s health programs are implemented in 60 districts in 14 states.

The Context

The health and nutrition status of pregnant women have a profound effect on maternal mortality, child survival, children’s growth and development. The proportion of malnutrition among children and women in India is among the highest in the world. In India, 58% of pregnant women are anaemic. Early marriage worsens the situation. Nearly half (47.4%) of women aged 20 to 24 are married before reaching the age of 18. Consequently, under-5 mortality in India is 52% while child under-nutrition is 42%. In addition, access to quality health care services and its usage is poor.

How it Works

In keeping with ChildFund India’s integrated life stage approach, our health based programs are delivered at 3 levels:

Nurturing the early years (0 – 5 years)

Our early childhood development efforts are based on the premise that children have the best chance of having a better life than their parents when two things are true: In their first five years, all their needs are met for care, nutrition, health care, stimulation and safety; and their parents ensure all those pieces are in place.

In the early years, ChildFund India’s health program focuses on providing adequate nutrition, promoting safe motherhood, protection against life-threatening childhood illnesses, and empowering community to ensure universal access to health.

This is achieved through the following:

  • Behavior change communication at individual, family and community level via mothers’ and community meetings.
  • Early identification of undernourished pregnant and lactating women, as well as children to combat severe to moderate acute malnutrition.
  • Convergence and partnership with the government’s health programs.
  • Home based care including visits and follow-ups with caregivers.
  • Engaging and sensitizing male members for maternal and child care.

Fostering a protective, healthy environment (6-14 years)

Adolescence is when young people begin to shape their world view, can form healthy behaviors and nurture positive relationships. It is a window of opportunity for them to begin practices that will lead to good health during adulthood.

Providing nutrition, promoting healthy habits, fostering a protective and caring environment, and sensitization and orientation of adolescents continue to be the core components of the program. At this juncture, ChildFund’s emphasis is also on school health and sanitation and on adolescent sexual and reproductive health. We work with communities and government for promotion and use of household toilets, hand washing in schools, and adolescent menstrual hygiene.

Focus on Sexual, Reproductive Health (15-24 years)

As the beneficiary group matures, the program focus shifts to providing youth-friendly services centered round reproductive health. ChildFund supports youth to practice healthy behaviors, form positive relationships, access essential services, and live free from sexual exploitation and abuse. Young adults are educated about issues such as early marriage and early pregnancy, family planning, and sexual violence against adolescent girls, while also learning to guard against diseases like malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and anemia.

We organize RTI/STI camps (for reducing sexually transmitted diseases) and ARSH, and work with families and communities to increase knowledge and understanding around the social norms that increase risk for negative health impacts. Equal emphasis is given to imparting crucial life skills.

Program Impact

Annually, our health programs benefit about 2.3 million people. Total 12,780 primary caregivers and 2019 service providers have been trained on child care practices.

In 2014, ChildFund India was able to improve the lives of 105,970 children in the age group of 0 to 5 years, 241,014 children aged 6-14 years and 245,088 children aged 15-24 years. We organized 364 Positive Deviant Hearth sessions and a total 11,776 malnourished children reached normal indicators in follow-up surveys conducted in 2014. An additional 29,017 children shifted from moderate malnourishment to normal.

As a result of our interventions skilled and assisted delivery rates increased from 38.1% in 2009 to 75.3% in 2013.